Once again, we are at the end of a year. Amidst the bustle of holidays, travels and festivities, many of us may once again be taking stock of our year and planning resolutions for the next. We may aspire to work out more, spend less time online or finally clean out the garage. How about incorporating some New Year’s resolutions that are both good for us and for the planet? These could lead to more money in our wallets, increased time with family, and better health. Who doesn’t want that?
Let’s start with the crazy shopping sprees every time a birthday or holiday approaches. Instead of buying whatever toy or game is the hottest at the moment, only to see it end up in the landfill by summer, why not focus on experiences? A membership to a local museum or outdoor space can provide hours of entertainment, and occupy no space in our homes. Taking a cooking class with your spouse instead of buying a birthday gift can lead to shared memories and laughs. Deciding to give only handmade gifts for the holidays can cut down on expenses and boost your creative juices.
A popular New Year’s resolution is to eat better. One of the best ways to achieve this is to start eating more plants and less meat. In winter, renew acquaintance with your crockpot, which will let you serve wonderful protein-rich stews made from lentils and beans with minimal effort. On a cold winter’s day, come home to warm bean chili, topped with diced peppers. Or perhaps roasted beets and fresh tomato salad on a summer plate. Ditch the cold cuts and replace them with a flavorful Mediterranean sandwich filled with hummus and veggies. With a little imagination, we can trade that turkey sandwich for more adventurous eats. The plethora of farmers’ markets in our area makes it easy to get locally farmed produce most of the year. Plant-based foods are tasty, nutritious and often less expensive. The good news is that growing plants uses a lot less land, fertilizer and water than growing animal foods, making this a win-win-win for our wallet, our waistline and the world.
Next on most people’s list: Get in better shape. Many of us are trying to squeeze in a workout at the gym in the midst of our busy day. However, in our walk-friendly community, getting exercise may be easier than we think. Leave the car in the garage and take a walk to the library, the coffee shop or to school. Skip the gym altogether for a brisk hike in one of our many parks. Or join us on a volunteer day, to get some exercise while making new friends. Did you know working in the garden can help burn calories? Weeding and mulching can lead to tidy gardens and happy minds, with a side of butterflies and beautiful blooms.
The song may say it’s not easy being green, but with a little creativity, we can adopt habits that are sustainable for the planet and also enrich our lives. So go ahead and cook a scrumptious meal with your family, put on your hand-knitted scarf and burn off the calories with a walk out in nature. You will feel better for it!